Tag Archives: quarantine baking

Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes

Funfetti Cookie CupcakesFull disclosure, I am tired. Like in-my-bones tired. It’s been a long week and I haven’t been sleeping well and I just can’t seem to get my brain to concentrate on this blog post. I would say I’m trying my best, but I am actually trying as much as I absolutely have to and not the tiniest bit more. It’s that sort of day.Funfetti Cookie CupcakesI usually take pride in writing a “real” blog post, but was tempted today to just leave it at “Um, hi. I took cookie cake and threw sprinkles in there and made it smaller. Oh, and there’s a plume of vanilla buttercream on each one. Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes, y’all!” …and leave it at that. I mean, that about sums it up, right?Funfetti Cookie CupcakesWell, almost. It doesn’t tell you that these Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes were born because I deeply miss baking for groups. I really wanted to make a cookie cake for weeks, but resisted because who would I share it with?

When the thought of cookie cupcakes popped into my head, it only took me a day to make them and a few more hours before I found some friends to give them away to in exchange for petting their dog and some homemade lemon-basil sorbet. I doesn’t tell you how incredibly heartening it was to see (masked) familiar faces and love on my pup friend and casually envy someone else’s ice cream machine, even though I absolutely do not need another piece of kitchen equipment.Funfetti Cookie CupcakesFunfetti Cookie CupcakesThat rambling, incoherent, grammatically incorrect blurb says nothing of how the exteriors of these little cookie cakes crackle ever-so-slightly against your teeth when you first bite in, or how the centers are a tad underbaked and chewy like almost every great cookie out there. Just like their larger counterparts, these tiny cakes are a bit sunken in the center, perfect for holding a copious amount of frosting. That sentence doesn’t tell you that even when these aren’t fresh and get a little crumbly, they are still pretty wonderful, as all things topped with a small mountain of vanilla buttercream are.Funfetti Cookie CupcakesFunfetti Cookie CupcakesThere’s no mention of how much I absolutely love sprinkles, and how even though they mostly just taste sweet and waxy, I consider them (combined with vanilla and almond extracts) a flavor profile all their own. The little pops of color in and on these Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes make me happy, as does their buttery sugar cookie flavor. These are like having everything I’m nostalgic for all rolled into one single-serve dessert.Funfetti Cookie CupcakesAnd speaking of single servings, that half-assed blog “post” I wanted to write has one more gross oversight. These are perfect for socially-distanced celebrating or for delivering to someone you love and can’t really see right now. It doesn’t tell you that even though you bake all the time, even when you are tired and feel uninspired, making these will feel nothing like work and completely like joy. And how even when you’re a completely depleted puddle of a human who needs a weekend so badly it’s ridiculous, you’ll find a way to find the words to say it all.Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes

Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes
makes 2 dozen cookie cupcakes

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed (not dark brown sugar)
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract or imitation butter extract (optional)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils)

For Garnish:
Vanilla Buttercream (recipe below)
rainbow sprinkles (jimmies or nonpareils)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar. Mix in egg and yolk, vanilla and optional almond extract. Stir in flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold in rainbow sprinkles (jimmies). Scoop dough in 1 1/2 tablespoon increments and press into prepared cupcake liners. Bake 12-13 minutes, until the tops no longer appears shiny and the edges are just slightly golden. Centers may not be fully puffed when baking is finished and will sink a bit during cooling.

Let cookie cupcakes cool 20 minutes in the pan on a rack before removing to the rack to cool completely.

Remove cupcake liners, if desired. Pipe vanilla buttercream into the center of each cookie cupcake (recipe below). Top with rainbow sprinkles.

Decorated cookie cupcakes will keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Vanilla Buttercream
makes enough for 2 dozen cookie cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

In a medium-large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Add heavy cream by the tablespoon until desired consistency is reached.

How to pipe: Stand a piping bag fitted with a coupler and star tip in a tall cup and fold any bag overhang over the outside. Use a silicone spatula or spoon to “load” 1/3-1/2 of the buttercream into the bag. Unfold bag overhang and lift piping bag out the cup.

Press frosting toward the tip. Twist bag overhang closed and hold tight between your thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand, letting the main portion of the bag be held by your palm and remaining fingers. Use your non-dominant hand to tap the bag a couple of times to dislodge any air bubbles. Pipe a dab or two of frosting onto a surface or small plate, just to get the buttercream going in the right direction.

Pipe buttercream into each cookie cupcake, refilling the bag when necessary.Funfetti Cookie CupcakesFunfetti Cookie CupcakesFunfetti Cookie Cupcakes

Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb Cake

Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb CakeI had the idea for this Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb Cake after making Double Funfetti Crumb Cake last year and have just been waiting for the right occasion to make it. Why, you may wonder, is today the right day for this cake? Because May 15th is National Chocolate Chip Day!Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb CakeGenerally speaking, I’m not a big celebrator of food holidays, but I seem to always remember Pi Day, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day, and Chocolate Chip Day. While these are all silly occasions, I feel like this is *the* time for silly occasions. After all, it’s the 64th day of lockdown here in NYC—Chocolate Chip Day and especially this Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb Cake have never been more necessary.Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb CakeI mean, look at that pillowy soft chocolate chip cake! It’s buttery, tight-crumbed, and super moist thanks to half a cup of sour cream. It’s almost enough to restore my hope for the future.Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb CakeOh, and speaking of restoring hope in things, let’s discuss the crispy chocolate chip cookie crumb topping! It’s the real star of this show. Think streusel, but instead of cinnamon there’s a bunch of brown sugar and chocolate chips in the mix—it’s actual perfection.

If you want to get fancy, you could brown the butter in the crumb topping. I’m gonna do that next time as part of that hope in the future thing.Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb CakeIf you want perfectly clean slices and have slightly more patience than I do, you can wait til the cake has cooled completely before divvying it up. I ceased having extra patience 42 days ago, so the pictured slice is a little scraggly…but as a perk, the chocolate chips are still soft. I will choose melty chocolate over aesthetics any day, anytime. But, like, especially today and right now. The future can wait while I finish my slice of cake.Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb CakeHappy Chocolate Chip Day, dear readers.Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb Cake

Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake, about 10-12 servings

Chocolate Chip Crumb Topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 tablespoons miniature chocolate chips

Cake Batter:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a springform pan. Set aside.

Make the crumb topping. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together flour, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in and melted butter and stir until dry ingredients are saturated and clumps form. Stir in miniature chocolate chips. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy. Mix in egg, sour cream and vanilla; mixture may be a bit lumpy. Mix in half the dry ingredients followed by half the milk. Add remaining dry ingredients, followed by remaining milk. Use a silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) to fold in miniature chocolate chips.

Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Use your fingers to evenly distribute crumb over the top. Tap full pan a few times on the countertop to release any large air bubbles. Bake cake for 65-75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool 20 minutes in the pan on a rack. Run a thin, flexible knife around the edge of the pan before releasing the springform. Cake may be served warm or room temperature. If you’d like, let the cake cool completely, invert it and remove the parchment before placing on a serving platter. Slice and serve.

Leftover cake will keep well at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb CakeChocolate Chip Cookie Crumb CakeChocolate Chip Cookie Crumb Cake

Buttermilk Pancakes

Buttermilk PancakesI want you to know that these took me a while—like 24 test batches, and also years of making subpar pancakes and wondering if there was something wrong with me or if I should give in to a lifetime of Bisquick.

How difficult could pancakes from scratch possibly be? Well, not difficult at all, it turns out. I just had to stop nitpicking and get out of my own damn way. Very good, very easy Buttermilk Pancakes happen when I stop nitpicking and get out of my own damn way.Buttermilk Pancakes These Buttermilk Pancakes are on the thick and fluffy side of things—perfect for piling high with butter and maple syrup. They are so soft and tender that I can’t get enough, which is a very good thing considering that I have 24 batches-worth triple-wrapped in plastic and stacked into columns in my freezer. I’d invite you all over for pancakes and Sahadi coffee if inviting blog friends over to eat reheated leftovers weren’t extra weird. Also, the whole pandemic thing.Buttermilk PancakesAnyway…I didn’t reinvent the wheel here. Flour, sugar, baking powder & soda, salt, buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla—those are the ingredients you’ll find in most buttermilk pancakes, including mine. You’ll notice that the volume of wet ingredients far surpasses the dry, so these are fluffy but not heavy or rubbery.Buttermilk PancakesI don’t have any magical tips for you except to rest the batter for a few minutes (it will change dramatically as the gluten develops), make sure your surface isn’t too hot, and don’t cook your batter in too much fat. That last bit of advice seems to be the secret to evenly-browned pancakes, at least when it comes to this recipe. I brush the pan with oil and then wipe out any excess with a paper towel before pouring batter.Buttermilk PancakesThese are buttermilk pancakes, so I tested them primarily with full- and low-fat buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can use a vinegar/lemon juice + milk substitute. Your pancakes will be a little thinner than mine, but they will still be delicious. I also had pancake success with a mixture of 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup milk. Yogurt and milk would probably work just fine, too. We’re making pancakes, not doing rocket science–work with what you have.

Oh, and don’t worry about whisking out every last lump in your batter. In fact, you absolutely shouldn’t do that. Normally we’d want those bits of unincorporated flour and leaveners gone, but here they keep the gluten from overdeveloping and the baking powder and soda from all reacting at once. All of that is a very long way of saying that a few lumps keep our pancakes tender and fluffy instead of tough and chewy.Buttermilk PancakesYou may think this batter is particularly thick, or at least I do (maybe from my lifetime of Bisquick?), but it’s still pourable. I find that rotating my wrist/the measuring cup 90 degrees while pouring batter onto the pan helps to develop a good round shape…not that I’ve ever discriminated against a pancake based on its shape. Pancake positivity all the way.Buttermilk PancakesAs for when to make and eat Buttermilk Pancakes, I know the weekend is traditional, but days are just days now, and there’s never really a bad time for pancakes, now is there? Maybe, just this once, be like me–Stop nitpicking and get out of your own damn way. Very good, very easy pancakes happen when you stop nitpicking and get out of your own damn way.Buttermilk Pancakes

Buttermilk Pancakes
makes about 18 pancakes

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature*
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, cold or room temperature (both work)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
canola or vegetable oil, for cooking

For serving:
pats of butter
maple syrup

Preheat oven to 200F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium mixing bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk until no streaks of flour remain—there will still be some lumps. Let batter rest 5-10 minutes.

Heat your griddle or pan (I used anodized non-stick and cast iron) over medium heat for a few minutes, until heated through. Brush with oil (or grease lightly), then wipe excess out with a folded paper towel or dish towel.

Stir rested batter one or two strokes. Pour 1/4 cup increments of batter on greased pan. Let cook 2-3 minutes, until bubbles are forming and they are turning golden. Flip with a spatula and cook for 2 minutes, or until the bottom is turning golden. Remove to prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until serving.

Continue making pancakes with remaining batter, greasing the pan only as necessary.

Serve immediately with pats of butter and maple syrup.

Leftover pancakes may be stacked in threes, triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for a couple of months. Discard plastic and microwave 2.5 to 3 minutes before serving.

Note:

I take the chill off my buttermilk by microwaving it for 35-45 seconds and giving it a stir with a fork before using.Buttermilk Pancakes Buttermilk PancakesButtermilk Pancakes

Friday Favorites: Bananas

Any guesses as to the number one thing I’ve been asked for this pandemic? Anyone? Bueller?

Okay, I’ll tell you—it’s things to do with ripe bananas! I feel like I’ve been passing out banana bread recipes right and left for the last two months. Here are a few favorite banana breads and muffins, and a few more things to do with brown bananas. I figured you might like to have some options for the duration.Friday Favorites: BananasWhole Wheat Banana Bread

This soft and tender loaf has a little extra depth from whole wheat flour. There’s also a little life hack in the post for getting bananas to ripen in minutes rather than days. The more you know…Friday Favorites: BananasChocolate Banana Bread

This double chocolate banana bread is somewhere between breakfast and dessert. Incidentally, that is the exact time of day I like to enjoy it—anywhere between breakfast and dessert!

Friday Favorites: BananasSmall Batch Banana Muffins

One banana, six muffins, accidentally vegan. Need I say more?Friday Favorites: BananasOne-Banana Banana Bread

…okay, I’ll say that you can use the same basic formula from above (plus an egg or vegan egg substitute) and make a teeny loaf of banana bread. Small batch baking for the win!Friday Favorites: BananasWhole Grain Banana Muffins

One last banana bread/muffin/what have you, because heaven knows you can never have too many. These whole grain banana muffins are made with a ton of oats in addition to whole wheat flour, toasted walnuts, and chocolate chips. Yum!Friday Favorites: BananasWhole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars

Reading through the post, It seems I sort of tried to pass these off as a healthier option back in 2016. Not so sure about that, but I do know that these bars—made with oats,whole wheat flour, chocolate chips and one very ripe banana—are super delicious.Friday Favorites: BananasCaramelized Banana Milkshakes

Bananas cooked in butter and brown sugar and then whirled into a vanilla milkshake? Sign me up!Friday Favorites: BananasBanana Pecan Sticky Buns

The best sort of weekend breakfast! Sliced ripe bananas are rolled into cinnamon buns, baked over a lake of sticky pecan caramel, and then inverted so it all runs together in a truly wonderful way.Friday Favorites: BananasBanana Snickerdoodles

These soft, cinnamon-spiked banana cookies are coated in a thin, crackling layer of cinnamon-sugar. So, so, sooooo good.Friday Favorites: BananasBanana Pudding Cookies

I have had many baking “Everests” in the last several years, but this was the first. These soft, chewy, white chocolate chip studded cookies taste exactly (*exactly*) like banana pudding. They don’t contain a box of pudding mix either, instead relying on a mixture of powdered milk and cornstarch. Oh, and they are absurdly delicious and you should make a batch as soon as possible.Friday Favorites: BananasNo-Churn Banana Pudding Ice Cream

I love a no-churn ice cream, especially when it’s scented with vanilla and studded with banana and crumbled vanilla wafers! This was the most popular recipe on my site in 2016–believe the hype!

Have you made any of these or any of my other banana recipes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!Friday Favorites: BananasFriday Favorites: Bananas

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb TartI had never seen rhubarb in person until I moved to New York, but let’s just say it was love at first sight. Super tart and brightly colored, this is the sort of thing my springtime dessert dreams are made of—strawberries strictly optional.

Now, I have no real reason to make pie this spring, but that doesn’t mean I’m skipping rhubarb season. Ohhh no. As soon as I spied a pile of hot pink stalks at the market a few weeks ago, I grabbed more than I probably needed and promptly went home to make this tart.Rhubarb TartI love tarts like this one. They’re so uncomplicated. So unfussy and uncluttered. So rustic. So classy. So freakin’ easy.Rhubarb TartRegarding the crust, you can follow my lead by making your own flaky, buttery rough puff, or make it easy and use thawed frozen puff pastry. Don’t have European butter in this pandemic? Neither do I! Use whatever you have.Rhubarb TartRhubarb TartThe filling couldn’t be simpler. Rhubarb stalks are sliced into thin pieces, arranged on the pastry in whatever fashion makes you happy, sprinkled with sugar and dotted with butter. Bake the tart until the crust is golden and the rhubarb is soft, then paint on warm honey for a little extra sweetness and shine. Since this tart doesn’t have any berries to offset the tanginess of the rhubarb, that hint of honey goes a long way.Rhubarb TartRhubarb TartWhere pies are thick and take hours to cool, this tart is so thin that it only needs 45-60 minutes to reach room temperature. The flavor is more tangy than it is sweet, but the flaky crust and a dollop of whipped cream (or ice cream, if you have it) round things out nicely. Also, it’s pretty—pretty delicious!Rhubarb TartNeed a reason to make a Rhubarb Tart? Well, first of all, we are in a pandemic and you can have whatever dessert you want and anyone who says otherwise is flat wrong. But also, it’s perfect for celebrating literally any day of the week or that you put on real pants or that you didn’t see anyone not wearing a face-covering today.

If you’re slightly less weird than I am and are cooped up with anyone who identifies as a mother, I have it on good authority that this would make a fine Mother’s Day dessert. But really, any old occasion will do.Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart
makes one tart, about 8 servings

Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For the tart:
4-5 stalks rhubarb, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons honey, agave or maple syrup

For garnish:
sweetened whipped cream
vanilla ice cream

Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the tart. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to the prepared pan. Trim any excess overhang. Dock center of the dough with a fork. Refrigerate while you prepare the rhubarb.

Using a large sharp chef’s knife, slice each stalk of rhubarb lengthwise once (or twice, depending on their width), until each long piece is about 1/2-inch wide. Then slice those long pieces into 4-inch lengths.

Arrange rhubarb pieces decoratively over the crust. Scatter sugar over the top and dot with butter. Bake 28-30 minutes, until edges are puffed and golden brown. Large bubbles may form during baking. Just pop them with a fork or sharp knife.

Let tart cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Warm honey (or agave or maple) slightly to loosen—about 10 seconds in the microwave should do it. Use a pastry brush to apply it to the soft rhubarb.

Use parchment to remove tart to a cutting board. Remove parchment. Slice into pieces. Serve immediately with whipped cream or ice cream.

Tart is best eaten the day it’s made as crust will soften dramatically over time. Leftover slices may be layered with wax paper or parchment and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Note:

You may use frozen all-butter puff pastry instead. Thaw according to package directions and begin the recipe at the paragraph that begins “Make the tart.”

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